Reid Blasts Romney's Auto Bailout Opposition: 'It Wasn't About Saving People Who Own Race Cars'

Bill Clark/Getty Images

On the day of the Michigan primary Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., opened up the senate floor by blasting Republican presidential hopeful former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for opposing the $82 billion auto bailout in 2008.

"It was about saving millions of Americans who worked for these corporations," Reid said. "It wasn't about saving the people who own race cars, it was about saving the people who work on assembly lines making the parts to keep those race cars running."

Reid's comments was a double-dig at Romney, who beyond just opposing the auto bailout, has  been painted as out-of-touch by Democrats most recently for his remark on Sunday during a tour at the Daytona 500 in which Romney said that while he does not "closely" follow racing he does "have great some friends who are NASCAR team owners. "

Reid said Democrats weren't willing to give up on American manufacturing, because they knew that saving the auto industry "wasn't about saving corporations," but saving American jobs.

By way of comparison, Reid quoted Romney's November 2008 op-ed in The New York Times entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," in which Romney wrote, "If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won't go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed."

With the American auto industry now having added 160,000 jobs in the last two years, Reid said the "test of character" now is if a person, like candidate Romney, admits a mistake.

Romney has defended his editorial and argued a managed bankruptcy like he suggested is not unlike what the restructuring of car companies that actually occurred.

"When a Republican presidential frontrunner said we should kiss the American automobile industry goodbye, he couldn't have been more wrong," Reid said. "We all make mistakes. We all get one wrong occasionally. The test of character is admitting when we make that mistake. And it's time for Republicans to recognize that saving Americans and their automobile manufacturing industry, saved the American automobile manufacturing industry and millions of middle-class jobs was the right thing to do."